Jody Hemphill Smith
Jody Hemphill Smith and her husband, Mark Paul Smith, have roots that run deep under the pavement of West Wayne Street. Hemphill-Smith was raised in Fort Wayne and met her husband while renting an apartment in a house just down the block from their current residence. They still own the house where their early seeds were sown, along with the architectural jewel that is known as the Castle Gallery.
Hemphill-Smith has a strong passion for her hometown, most affectionately the West Central neighborhood. She and her husband have owned and restored a total of four mammoth homes on West Wayne, each time receiving the ARCH award. She hopes to assist in the renovation of 1122 West Wayne, the home that went up in flames on December 23. She has already renamed the property, “Phoenix” and is confident it will rise from the ashes.
Most often identified as a painter, Hemphill Smith recognizes that she approaches home restoration in a similar way that she does an empty canvas. She says her work in restoration could be described as her “practicum in 3D design.” She connects to the homes she restores just as deeply as any artist connects to her work. While Hemphill Smith’s paintings are heavily collected, her masterpiece stands three stories high and houses work from artists all over the country.
Castle Gallery is both home to the Smiths and a destination art gallery. After serving the city from 1949 to 1983 as the Fort Wayne Art Museum, the house was divided into multiple apartments. In the process, sections of the house were sealed out of sight, only to be discovered years later by Jody and Mark as they worked to restore the architectural gem to its proper state. Three small kitchens, remnants of the old apartments, connect to the rest of the house by back hallways, doors and staircases – perfect tunnels to hide the behind-the-scenes scurrying that takes place during an event like a gallery opening.
Jody and Mark Paul opened the house as a gallery in 1995 with a Valentine’s Day show. On February 9, 2013 the gallery celebrated its 18th annual event with wine, chocolate, live music and fine art. Hemphill Smith described the event, which features bright colors and floral themes, as an opportunity to give people their “fix of color,” a craving that so many of us experience this time of year.
Hemphill Smith’s paintings certainly offer color. The majority of her works depict bits of nature, mostly flowers, but some vegetables and even a few animals. Her flowers are full of energy, as if dancing or exploding from the ground, celebrating new life and happily letting us know that we made it through yet another season of gloom. Her brush strokes show movement; her colors are bold. Hemphill Smith is not an artist of subtlety; she has a vibrant soul, and her paintings reflect her personal energy.
Hemphill Smith’s paintings, along with work by dozens of other artists, fill the walls of the nine-bedroom, nine-bath Castle. Pieces of art can be found in every corner of the house. Paintings fill hallways, bedrooms, stairways and offices. No space is off limits to art. Hemphill-Smith tells her artists, “You could be hanging across from the washer and dryer or you could be hanging on the front wall.”
While some artists might take offense to their work showing in a laundry room, there is no shame at the Castle. Robin Cheers – an Atlanta artist who handles local commissions, painting popular Fort Wayne locations such as the Oyster Bar – hangs across from the washer and dryer. Her work elevates the atmosphere for tackling mundane chores. Doing laundry surrounded by beautiful paintings can’t be all bad. (The laundry room is also home of “Jim Morrison Way,” the details of which you’ll have to learn on your own when you visit.)
The Castle is full of subtle surprises, and each hidden treasure is connected to a story. It’s up to each visitor to find clues that unfold to reveal quirky and often heartwarming stories. For example, the artist Carolyne Fehsenfeld, renowned instructor at the artist residency Ox Bow, painted a series of tiny pieces that currently hang at the end of a hallway on the second floor. The pieces are lovely, but a quick-browsing visitor could easily rush by without much thought. Pass them slowly, and you will see the ghostly shadow of the king of clubs or maybe the jack of spades hovering in the background, asleep behind thin layers of paint. The artist painted the miniature gems as she spent hours keeping company with her ailing parents in the hospital. The compact size of the cards (tiny canvases complete with a handy carrying case) attracted Fehsenfeld. Knowing the hours at the hospital would pass more enjoyably if she were painting, she brought a deck and a few tubes of paint and began creating a collection of unique works.
Another series of tiny works comes from a mother of young children who craves quiet, creative time. Rather than prop her feet up when her little ones head off for a snooze, Julie Waranch Fleshman paints mini-works in gouache. Her one nap-one painting method produces small designs with such fine detail that a person may wonder if the brush’s hairs could be counted on one hand.
Hemphill Smith’s paintings reflect stories that tell of her own connections with people. Her vegetable series was painted on the deck at her Lake Michigan home where she gathered five easels and five still lifes to create five large paintings. The vegetables Hemphill Smith studied weren’t plastic fakes or random grabs from the supermarket, but rather ones hand-grown and nurtured in a friend’s garden, then carefully chosen and harvested by the collector who commissioned the originals. The time and care given to grow, harvest, and arrange the produce are celebrated with Hemphill Smith’s choice of vibrant color. Her loose style reflects the energy contained inside of each pepper, eggplant, and tomato.
Hemphill Smith’s landscapes, still lifes, and interpretations of the Castle itself are in the hands of collectors all over the country. Art lovers fall head over heels for the stories and vibrancy Hemphill Smith brings to her work. One of her clients even purchased a piece specifically for his cat. The painting was hung at eye level, just above the floor, perfect placement for a feline friend.
When traveling, Hemphill Smith is often reminded of paintings sold to clients long ago. “When I see an old piece, it’s like revisiting an old friend.” Like most artists, Hemphill Smith feels a deep connection with her work. The artist’s spirit is spread across the canvas. When a person buys a piece of work they bring home a piece of that process.
Castle Gallery hosts five receptions each year to invite collectors to meet artists and in turn develop lasting relationships. A personal connection makes the work more meaningful to clients and helps foster a feeling of appreciation, not only for the work but also for the person who created it. Passionate art collectors don’t fill their homes with canvas, oil and pigment, but with parts of people who they know and genuinely care about.
Hemphill Smith and her staff work hard to maintain a constant flow of new work in and old work out of the Castle. Her goal is to keep the walls interesting by rotating pieces and hanging art in new combinations and different locations to create a unique experience each time a person visits.
If you choose to visit – and I highly recommend you do – move through the Castle slowly. It is easy to be overcome by the building’s regal personality, but if you allow your eye to wander, you will come to see the details. Stained glass windows, a coffee table made from the guts of a grand piano and inlaid floors show off the architecture like jewels around a woman’s neck. Small doorways lead to small hallways and back staircases. Wind your way through. There are three stories of detail and story to uncover. (Two tidbits to lookout for: flying pigs and a hidden Nancy Drew.) If you reach the rooftop deck, its view may set your mind wandering as you simmer and process all that was seen on the inside. While you’re up there, look down at the neighborhood filled with layers of history, impressive architecture and fabulous art. Hemphill Smith has left her influence all over the place with the homes she has renovated, the art she has created and the connections she has made with people.
The 18th Annual Valentine’s Show runs through March 16. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., or by appointment.
by Heather Miller
Friday, April 28
Click on the headings below for full calendars
Click header for complete Things To Do calendar
Concordia Comedy Festival — Concordia Lutheran High School presents a showing of comedy films from middle and high school students, 7 p.m. Friday, April 28, Room 101, Neff Hall, IPFW, Fort Wayne, free, 483-1102
Tapestry: A Day for You — Day of inspiration, renewal and education for women in all stages of life with keynote speaker Ann Curry, 7:30 a.m. Friday, April 28, Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, $75, 483-1111
Click header for complete On the Road calendar
Click header for complete Music & Comedy calendar
Blooze Faktor — Blues at Dupont Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., cover, 483-1311
Chris Worth & Company — Variety at Arena Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 557-1563
Classic Voice — Variety at The Venice Restaurant, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, (260) 482-1618
Cougar Hunter — 80s glam rock at The Venue, Angola, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $5, 665-3922
Expanding Man — Variety at Club Soda, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 426-3442
G-Money Band — Blues at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 8:30 p.m., no cover, 482-6425
Hubie Ashcraft & Travis Gow — Country at Billy's Downtown Zulu, Monroeville, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 623-3583
The Illegals — Rock at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 483-5526
IPFW Bands & Choirs w/Fort Wayne Children's Choir — Classical at Auer Performance Hall, Rhinehart Music Center, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 7:30 p.m., $4-$7, 481-6555
Joe Stabelli — Jazz at Don Hall's Gas House, Fort Wayne, 5:45-9 p.m., no cover, 426-3411
John Curran & Renegade — Country at American Legion Post 241, Waynedale, 8:30-11:30 p.m., no cover, 747-7851
Kat Bowser — Variety at Don Hall's Guesthouse, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 489-2524
Rebecca Rego — Americana/country at Two-EE's Winery, Huntington, 7:30-9:30 p.m., no cover, 672-2000
Secret Mezzanine — Variety at Deer Park Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 432-8966
String Theory — Acoustic variety at Friendly Fox, Fort Wayne, 6:30-8:30 p.m., no cover, 260-745-3369
Todd Harrold & Nick Bobay Duo — R&B/blues/variety at O'Sullivan's Italian Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 422-5896
Trichotomous Hippopotamus w/Trackless, John Fishell — Rock at Brass Rail, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., cover, 267-5303
The Why Store — Rock at Mitchell's Sports Bar & Neighborhood Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $5, (260) 387-5063
Click header for complete Karaoke & DJs calendar
Big Dawg Karaoke w/Brian — Variety at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
Bucca Karaoke w/Ashley — Variety at Tower Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-6310
Classic City Karaoke w/Bryan Lee — Karaoke at Pine Valley Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m., no cover, 490-9464
Dance Party w/DJ Rich — Variety at Columbia Street West, Fort Wayne, 10:30 p.m., cover, 422-5055
DJ dance party — at Rum Runners, Fort Wayne, 8:30 p.m., ,
DJ Shawn — Karaoke/variety at Club Paradise, Angola, 10 p.m., no cover, 833-7082
Fort Wayne Karaoke — Variety at Tap Haus, New Haven, 9 p.m., no cover, 493-6622
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Jay — Variety at Coconutz @ Crazy Pinz, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 490-2695
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Scott — Variety at JR's Pub, Leo, 9 p.m., no cover, 627-2500
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/TJ — at Chevvy's, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., ,
House DJ — Variety at Early Bird's Ultra Lounge, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., cover, 483-1979
House DJ — Variety at Flashback on the Landing, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., cover, 422-5292
Karaoke w/DJ Chuck — Variety at DW Bar & Grill, Churubusco, 10 p.m., no cover, 693-8172
Karaoke with Rooster — Variety at Portside Pizza, Columbia City, 9 p.m., no cover, 691-3333
Karaoke — Variety at Coconutz @ Crazy Pinz, Fort Wayne, 9-11 p.m., no cover, 490-2695
Karaoke — Variety at Hamilton House, Hamilton, 9 p.m., no cover, 488-3344
Karaoke — Variety at Beamer's Sports Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 625-1002
Karaoke — Karaoke at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
Karaoke — Variety at Crooner's Karaoke Bar, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-3 a.m., no cover, 486-1979
Rockstar Karaoke & DJ w/Scotty — Karaoke at Backway Lounge, Angola, 10 p.m., no cover, 665-5081
Shooting Star Prod. w/Barbie — Variety at Uncle Lou's Steel Mill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-5787
Sidecar Gary's Karaoke & DJ — Karaoke at 4 Crowns, Auburn, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 925-9805
Sidecar Gary's Karaoke & DJ w/Kevin — Variety at Danny's Italian Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 484-4444
SureShot Karaoke w/David — Variety at The Green Frog Inn, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m., no cover, 426-1088
Three Rivers Karaoke — at Bottle and Bottega, Fort Wayne, 8:30-10:30 p.m., no cover, 494-1020
Click header for complete Stage & Dance calendar
Funny Little Thing Called Love — Romantic comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Home and Jamie Wooten, 7 p.m. dinner, 8 p.m. curtain, Friday-Saturday, April 28-29 and May 5-6 and May 12-13, Arena Dinner Theatre, Fort Wayne, $40 (includes dinner & show), 424-5622
The Little Mermaid — Fort Wayne Civic Theatre musical based on the Disney movie, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 8 p.m. Friday, May 5; 2 p.m. & 8 p.m. Saturday, May 6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, Arts United Center, Fort Wayne, $17-$29, 424-5220
Little Shop of Horrors — IPFW Department of Theatre performance of Alan Menken-Howard Ashman musical comedy, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29, Williams Theatre, IPFW, Fort Wayne, $5-$18, 481-6555
Next to Normal — Tony Award- and Pulitzer-winning musical about coping with mental illness, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, May 4-6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, Three Rivers Music Theatre, Fort Wayne, $10-$20, 498-2270
The Taming of the Shrew — William Shakespeare’s now somewhat controversial comedy about the battle between the sexes, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29 and Friday-Saturday, May 5-6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7; 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 12-13, First Presbyterian Theater, Fort Wayne, $12-$20, 426-7421 ext. 121
A Wrinkle in Time — all for One productions’ adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s young adult science fiction novel, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 5-6; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 7, PPG ArtsLab, Auer Center for Arts & Culture, Fort Wayne, $11-20, 422-4226
Click header for complete Movie times
Click header for complete Art calendar
37th National Print Exhibition — Juried exhibition featuring contemporary printmakers from around the nation, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 5, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
41st SOCA Student Exhibition — Works from students currently enrolled at USF’s School of Creative Arts, daily thru April 30, Weatherhead Gallery, USF Rolland Art Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Diane Allen Groenert — Exhibition of local artist’s Downtown Series and new works, Monday-Saturday thru June 24, West Central Microcreamery & Cafe, Fort Wayne, 415-9293
Echolilia — Works from Timothy Archibald and his autistic son, Eli, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Expressions of Existence — An exhibition of works by artists through history, including Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Francisco Goya and others whose works have been influenced by disabilities, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Fort Wayne Artist Guild Exhibitions — Works by Alice Siefert at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Jennifer Caudel at Allen County Retinal Surgeons, Anita Trick, Citizens Square (2nd and 3rd floors), Darlene Selzer Miller at The Einhaus Group for Women’s Health, Patricia Weiss at Heritage of Fort Wayne, Emily Jane Butler at Ophthalmology Consultants (Southwest), Linda Binek at Ophthalmology Consultants (North), Carolyn Stachera at Rehabilitation Hospital of Fort Wayne, John Kelty at ResCare Inc. Adult Day Service, Wiletta Blevins at Town House Retirement, Karen Bixler at Visiting Nurse Hospice and Barb Yoder and Karen Harvey at Will Jewelers, thru April 30, fortwayneartistguild.org.
Fort Wayne Photographers Club — Exhibition featuring local photographers, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 30, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Glass: A Medium in Art and Automobiles — Dale Chihuly blown glass and fiberglass auto, daily thru Sept. 8, Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, Auburn, $7.50-$12.50, 925-1444
Jan Krist-Finkbeiner — Exhibition of ceramic reliefs, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 5, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
Juxtapoz Magazine: 25 Years Under the Influence — A chronicle of the iconic magazine’s evolution into one of the most influential magazines of art of the counterculture, Tuesday-Sunday thru July 9, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Kathy Funderburg & Diane Schafer-King — Acrylic paintings (Funderburg) and works in marbled paper and fabric (Schaefer-King), Monday-Saturday thru April 29, Orchard Gallery of Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 436-0927
Norman Bradley and Friends — Exhibition of works by friends and colleagues of the late Fort Wayne artist, Tuesday-Saturday thru May 20 , Crestwoods Frame Shop & Gallery, Roanoke, 672-2080
Outdoor Sculpture Invitational — Fifteen outdoor sculptures from regional artists, daily thru April 30, School of Creative Arts campus, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Perspectives Live Butterfly Display — Up close and personal perspectives of the Conservatory’s newest collection of live butterflies, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 25, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Rhoda Gerig: The Hope of Eagles — Photographic images of eagles, daily thru June 4, Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102
Robert Williams: SLANG Aesthetics! — An exhibition of new work by the artist considered the godfather of the lowbrow, pop surrealist and colloquial realism art movements, Tuesday-Sunday thru July 23, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Sharon — An exhibition of Leon Borensztein photographs chronicling the struggles he faced raising his severely disabled daughter, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
SOCA Graduate Program: Student Highlights — Juried exhibition of works by students enrolled in USF’s School of Creative Arts graduate program, Monday-Friday thru April 30, Lupke Gallery, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Exhibition of works by IPFW graduation seniors, daily thru May 3, Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery, Main Library, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Senior thesis projects from Bachelor of Fine Arts candidates Brenda Drayer (sculpture), Derek Hibbs (printmaking), Ellen Mensch (painting), Nathaniel Morris (sculpture) and Kyle Snodgrass (sculpture), daily thru May 7, Visual Arts Gallery, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring Palette — New original works by more than 50 nationally recognized artists, Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment thru May 20 (Cinco de Mayo Fiesta featuring mariachi music by Mark Meussling 6-10 p.m. Friday, May 5), Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568